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The Subaru Outback’s Split Personality - Family Hauler Or Best Off-Road SUV

In year two, after its complete redesign, the 2021 Subaru Outback has two different personalities. Which one describes the wagon best?

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Is the 2021 Subaru Outback one of the best off-road vehicles? According to CarsGuide, the Outback scores one of the four best new 4x4 and off-road models arriving this year. It ranks highest with some amazingly tough vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Range Rover, and Toyota Land Cruiser. Most customers buy the Outback for its civilized nature.

The 2021 Outback has a soft side to its character and is more comfortable and luxurious than ever. You can get the 2021 Outback Touring ($37,495) with Nappa leather seats, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power rear liftgate, and a Harman Kardon premium audio system.

2021 Subaru Outback, pricing, features, specs

Its personality is suited for those who want a comfortable family hauler with amenities you will find in any top-end SUV. But Subaru Outback has a split personality, and its other side is tough and rugged with a “go-anywhere” attitude.

The Outback was rugged enough before the redesign last year, but Subaru took the wagon to another level with the new sixth-generation model’s Onyx Edition XT trim. They ramped up the tough and rugged side of its personality by adding dual-function X-Mode.

2021 Subaru Outback, pricing, features, specs

You won’t think the family Outback could compete with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Range Rover, or Toyota Land Cruiser off-pavement, but it can without breaking a sweat. They don’t call it the “Outback” for its grocery-hauling abilities.

It’s got more mojo than your typical SUV or crossover

For starters, the Outback comes with 8.7-inches of ground clearance and Subaru’s excellent Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. The Japanese automaker added dual-function X-Mode for more extreme adventures and is standard on XT trims. Subaru enhanced the system for 2020 models, and it’s the one you want for extra-rugged outings.

Adventure enthusiasts don’t necessarily want to go off-road to see how crazy they can get. You want a vehicle that will take you off-pavement to reach places you can’t go in a typical SUV. The redesigned Outback will go to remote locations safely where other SUVs will leave you stranded.

A knob on the Outback’s console controls the new dual-function X-Mode, allowing you to switch from Snow and Dirt mode to Deep Snow and Deep Mud Mode. This mode enables the vehicle to maintain momentum when you get off the beaten path in more extreme deep snow and mud situations.

Americans love the great outdoors and getting off the beaten path, and it’s why Subaru took the 2021 Outback to another level of off-road ability. It’s both a family hauler and one of the four best rugged 4x4 off-road vehicles capable of getting you there but also get you back in one piece.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru

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David (not verified)    October 5, 2020 - 11:23AM

You indicate at one point that dual mode is standard on the XT models. That is not correct. It is only on the Onyx XT, unfortunately. Since it's software only. It's really a shame that they restricted it.